Friday, April 23, 2010

Terrific Taco Salad

Print Friendly and PDF I made a delicious taco salad last night. I believe the last time I ate a taco salad was at Taco Time in Abbotsford...sometime during the late 1980's. I got the recipe from the Eat, Shrink And Be Merry Cookbook by Janet and Greta Podleski. I altered it slightly, and have given my substitutions in brackets.

Na-cho Ordinary Taco Salad

Beef Mixture:

1/1/2 lbs extra lean ground beef ( 1 lb lean ground beef)

1 cup chopped onion ( 1 small white onion)

1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced ( 1 medium Poblano pepper seeded and chopped)

2 tsp minced garlic ( 1 lg garlic clove minced)

1Tbsp chili powder

2tsp ground cumin

2 cups quartered grape tomatoes

1/3 cup ketchup ( 1/2 ketchup, 1/2 sweet chili sauce)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

( I added 1 peeled carrot chopped fine to the frying meat)


12 cups torn Romaine and iceberg lettuce ( 1 head of Romaine lettuce)

1 cup canned whole kernel corn, drained

1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper ( omitted)

1 cup packed shredded light old sharp cheddar cheese - 4 oz ( I grated some full fat marble cheese)

1 cup quartered grape tomatoes ( omitted)

1/3 cup chopped green onions

1 small ripe avocado peeled and sliced-optional

1 cup each light sour cream and medium salsa

  • Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add beef, onions, jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Cook and stir until beef is no longer pink, breaking up any large pieces. Add chili powder and cumin. Cook 1 more minute. Add grape tomatoes, ketchup, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir for 2 more minutes. Remove skillet from heat and set aside.
  • To assemble salad, spread lettuce over bottom of a serving platter. ( If you want to make individual salads instead of one large salad, spread lettuce over bottom of individual sized plates or shallow bowls.) Top with beef mixture, followed by corn, beans, green pepper, cheese, tomatoes, green onions, and avocado slices ( if using), in that order. Top with sour cream and salsa just before serving.

Makes 8 lunch/6 dinner servings

I thought the beef mixture was really flavourful. I didn't use a jalapeno pepper, as I find them tasteless. I substituted a Poblano pepper, not at all sure how spicy it would be...and didn't taste it at all. I made individual plates for the P-Man and I. He had 2 plate fulls, and I had 1 smaller one. There is enough beef mixture plus the other fixings for at least 1 other supper. I bet the beef is even better after sitting over night. On the YUM scale...this one is an 8!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sunshine and magazines and macaroni and cheese

Print Friendly and PDF Today was a nearly perfect day. It started out with the P-Man taking me to White Spot for breakfast. I LOVE breakfast. The only thing better than breakfast, is eating breakfast in a restaurant that has that early morning pancake syrup smell! After breakfast, the P-Man sped off to work in his sporty little car, and I stopped off at the grocery store for a few items for tonight's supper. After wrestling with the self check-out...( 'Please remove the item from the bagging area'. 'Please wait for assistance'. said the perky computerized voice in a condescending manner!) I proceeded to walk down the big hill, back home. I have a HUGE PILE of magazines that I am trying to get through.

As a footnote to yesterdays PILING confession...I seem to be UNABLE to get rid of a magazine until I have flipped through it, or read it completely. So, with a sunny day, and a full stomach from breakfast...I took my place outside on the deck to read. And read I did. I read men's magazines(GQ), women's magazines (ELLE), foreign magazines, (TATTLER), local magazines,( WESTWORLD), magazines you get on the plane,( EN ROUTE), and magazines about food! (EAT, NORTHWEST PALATE) Yikes! All that reading made me hungry. When I realized it was 2 pm and I hadn't had lunch...I felt extra hungry. I decided on macaroni and cheese. I grew up eating KRAFT DINNER. As I grew older I began to have strong reservations about the chemicals and preservatives, and no doubt, cancer causing food colouring additives contained in that particular product. As I was unwilling to give up ever eating conveniently boxed macaroni and cheese again, I have switched to Annie's Home Grown Macaroni and Cheese, Shells and White Cheddar. I boiled up a box, and added some butter and milk, and some paprika and pepper, and a can of drained tuna, and some chopped green onions and cilantro. I dumped everything into a bowl, and ate it in the sun...with my copy of Edible Manhattan that I picked up on my recent trip to NYC. My lunch was creamy and filling. The tuna, cilantro, and green onions, really gave the dish some punch! I put the other half in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch, and got back to reading.

I think I may have enough time to read one more magazine before I have to start making supper for the P-Man and I. I'm trying a new recipe for a sort of taco salad...I hope it turns out as nearly perfect as the day...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Heavenly Halibut

Print Friendly and PDF I have another day off today. It is windy and rainy, so I decided to keep cleaning the apartment, and to do some more cooking. I spent the morning sorting papers. I have decided that I should investigate starring in my own reality TV show. It will be called PILERS. Kind of like HOARDERS...but not so bad! I am definitely NOT a hoarder. In fact, the P-Man lives in fear of what I am going to get rid of next! But I do tend to make piles. Big piles and little piles, of things like receipts, pictures I ripped out of magazines, newspapers, magazines with pictures ripped out. You get the idea. I derive some perverse pleasure out of MAKING the pile...then at a later date, SORTING the pile. Today was a sorting day, and I must tell you...I feel much better! After my breakfast, I cleaned the nice Romaine lettuce I picked up yesterday...and I have decided that tomorrow it will be transformed into a tasty and nutritious taco salad. I also had to figure out what to do with the fresh halibut fillets I had in the fridge. I decided to prepare them for a special lunch with myself. I dredged them in a little flour with a bit of paprika and summer savoury. I sprinkled the fillets with salt and pepper, heated up some oil and butter in my best frying pan, and proceeded to pan fry them to a golden goodness. I had no lemon, just a lime, so I thought I would whip up a little sauce to go with the fish. I squeezed a bit of lime juice into a small bowl and added a spoon of mayonnaise and some sweet chili sauce. I also blanched some asparagus. The fish was wonderful! It was super hot, with a crunchy crackly skin, and a nice golden color on top of the pure white flesh. I scooped the silky fish off the skin, and dipped it in the sauce. It was so moist and soft it almost melted in my mouth. The sauce was a bit tangy, and complimented the delicate flavour of the fish. The asparagus was barely cooked, and didn't need a thing. I ate it naked. No salt, no butter, no pepper. With a glass of yesterday's Sauvingnon Blanc...I was more than happy to continue sorting...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A rainy Tuesday with sort of Bangers and Mash

Print Friendly and PDF This is what my deck looked like a week or so ago. Hail and thunder and lightning! Mother Nature put on quite a show. It is warmer today...but equally gloomy. Spring is a real tease this year. One day I am sitting on the deck working on my tan... then this happens!

I am also in a bit of a mood...due to an unforeseen BLOGGING INJURY!! I seem to have developed a sharp pain and stiffness in my upper neck and shoulders. I used to suffer from such things when I was in Fashion Design. Too much time hunched over a pattern or a cutting table or a sewing machine. I made the obligatory visit to my Chiropractor...but two weeks later it is still nagging me. I have decided the pain is related to my lack of proper desk chair! I am sitting in an old Wing back chair of my late mother's...perched on top of 2 wobbly pillows. Before blogging...this chair was just fine. Not any more!

The P-Man and I have been happily munching away on leftovers from a lovely turkey roast I did last week. Yesterday, I decided to do a proper grocery shop, as the roast is almost at it's tasty end. I always try to get some new food things when I do a shop. If I don't, I tend to make the same things over and over. Yesterday's new items included a Thai fried rice mix, some sweet chili sauce, and some canned artichoke hearts. I also bought some New Zealand lamb shanks and some fresh halibut. Today, I walked up the big hill and bought some fresh fruit and vegetables. I got some small Yukon gold potatoes, some kohlrabi, an avocado and a addition to the regular carrots, onions, apples etc.

I decided to make some scalloped potatoes. We are not much of a potato house. We much prefer pasta or brown rice. These potatoes looked so beautiful and golden and smooth...I just had to take them home. I used a mandolin to slice up the potatoes, and it only took me 20 minutes to get the potatoes ready for the oven. I used some green onion instead of regular cooking onion. I used 1% milk and some left-over low fat sour cream for the liquid, and put butter, salt and pepper between each layer. I put it in at 350 for an hour, and will check it for doneness.

Next, I did a sort of turkey sausage/Veggie fry up. I browned 6 turkey sausages in some good olive oil. I added a chopped up clove of garlic, with a sliced onion, zucchini, red pepper, and portabella mushroom. For seasoning, I used a big sprinkle of dried Oregano and some salt and pepper. I added a splash of some nice Sauvingnon Blanc the P-Man picked up on the weekend, and let it simmer or 20 minutes.
It's smelling really good...I wonder if I have time for a nice neck stretch before the P-Man gets home to eat?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Best bagels and cream cheese and smoked meat...

Print Friendly and PDF The P-Man bought me some beautiful tulips last week. Tulips are like a guest at a party. They start out sort of tightly closed, but after a drink or two, they sort of open up and start to stagger around, eventually falling over! It is very easy to cook for someone who brings you flowers. You just pick out an ingredient they'd like and go to it! I usually make a pretty traditional dinner for the P-Man. He gets up early everyday to go to the gym, and then works for another ten hours or so. When he gets home...HE IS HUNGRY!! We never usually have things like soup or salad or sandwiches for supper. He likes a full meal. In fact, when I want a break from cooking, all I have to ask him is if he would like mayonnaise sandwiches for supper? The next thing I know...we're at Vol au Vent! On my trip to Granville Island, the only thing I purchased that really appealed to me was a dozen bagels from Siegels Bagels, some lite Winnipeg cream cheese, and some Montreal smoked meat. When I got home, I doctored up the cream cheese a little by adding a chopped green onion, and a bit of red pepper, some black pepper, flat leaf Italian parsley, and a dollop of grainy Dijon mustard. I toasted two bagels, a poppy seed one for me, and a multi grain one for the P-Man. I then placed the smoked meat in a shallow dish with a splash of water, and covered it with a paper towel, and microwaved it for 30 seconds...essentially steaming it. When the bagels were nice and tasty, I mean toasty, I spread on a generous amount of cream cheese deluxe, and piled the smoked meat on top. I also made my James Barber inspired green bean salad, and added a few nice tangy, homemade pickled beets, courtesy of my dear friend from the Valley, A.S. Once I presented the plate to the P-Man...all I heard was the occasional, " This is GOOD!"
OY!!! I had to agree!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tasty Food Wednesday...

Print Friendly and PDF I woke up to a sunny day off, yesterday. Considering the strange weather we have been having lately, a trip down to the beach for lunch was high on my to-do list. I used to live in Abbotsford, high up on a hill. My backyard faced North, and NEVER did I feel like sitting back there. My mom and I moved to Abbotsford in 1976. More like my father dropped us off there and said that he would be joining us soon. He never did. We managed. She drank a bit. I learned to do everything you have to do when you are stuck in a strange little town with a mother that drinks a bit. Cooking, sewing, school, boys...Looking back now, I can't fathom why I stayed there so long. The P-Man and I moved to White Rock in 2001, just after my mom died. It has been almost 10 years now, and I still can't get over the ocean, and the smell of this place. I kind of feel like I moved to California. On days like yesterday and today, I can't sit inside. It's like I'm making up for the 20 or so years I lived with a North facing backyard.
I went to Slainte by the Pier for lunch. It was so bad lunch the day before, just drifted away on the warm spring breeze. I got the last small table on the patio, and ordered a glass of wine and opened my magazine. ( FROM DECEMBER 2009!)
As I read about cute ideas to decorate your trendy flat in London for the Holidays...I decided to have the Sea Side Caesar Salad with grilled prawns. What arrived was a beautiful white plate piled high with crisp Romaine lettuce dressed with a creamy sharp dressing smelling and tasting of lemon and garlic and anchovies. Sitting proudly on top were 4 fat plump lightly grilled prawns with cute little salmon coloured tails. Another great thing about this salad is the croutons. They are SOFT. I believe they use real bread...not old stale bread. They spread it with a bit of garlic and a bit of pesto, and grill it until it is slightly charred. Then they chop it into nice sized chunks, and lovingly mix it into the salad. Crispy lettuce, with a tangy dressing mixed with soft bread, lightly toasted is a dynamite combination. This salad is delicious. Lick your plate kind of delicious! The prawns are like the icing on the cake. Slightly smoky from the grill, but with a sweetness that makes the whole plate into something of a treat! I don't normally order Caesar salad in a restaurant. Weight Watchers frowns on any menu item that contains the words' creamy dressing'. I also think I have been traumatized by years of eating the Caesar salads at Earls. A most horrible concoction of limp bagged lettuce, with the hardest, stalest croutons, smothered in a gloppy/mayonnaisy dressing that had so much garlic in it, that it killed the flavour of anything else I put into my mouth for days! If you too have been the victim of a BAD Caesar salad...The Sea Side Caesar at Slainte will heal you... I had 2 glasses of wine, and the salad and spent only $30.00. The sun was FREE! You should go...

My little friend in the photo is perched upon some of the best bagels in the whole world...Until next time...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Refuel... for lunch

Print Friendly and PDF As I was shopping for produce at Granville Island, some incredibly talented woman was creating this stunning floral arrangement. Believe me...It was even more beautiful in real life.
I had to go to West 4th Avenue. I have for years, eaten at Sophie's Cosmic Cafe, when the lineup is not snaking all the way around the corner. I had heard about a relatively new restaurant down the street from Sophie's. It used to be called Fuel, but was now re-named Refuel. Every time I eat at Sophie's, I need a nap afterwards. The food is so good and comforting, and the portions are HUGE. I decided to try Refuel. It was a Tuesday afternoon around 12:30, and the restaurant was a little less than half full. I had the option of sitting in the back corner, or near the bar/open kitchen. Since I had not brought a magazine to read, I thought watching the chef in the kitchen would be interesting. The decor is quite spare. The tables are a lovely plain honey colored wood, with no other decoration except a small white square plate. The only other thing on the table is the cutlery wrapped in a simple white linen napkin. The rest of the place was not my taste. The walls were panelled with a pale wood with alternating cutouts of a shape I can only describe as looking like a big thermometer. Showing through the cutouts is the most unappetizing spring green. The back wall is a curiosity. It has 3 things hanging there. Sort of back lit color photos of stylized flowers, or spores. At least the simple leather chairs were comfortable.

I ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio...very well priced at $6.95, and had a look at the menu. I didn't want a big lunch. It was quite difficult to decide, as items had no description. I decided to have a couple of appetizers. I ordered North Carolina Pork Ribs, Champ Gratin, and Crunchy Coleslaw. My server brought everything together, as I asked, and I started to pile a little bit of everything onto that little white square plate. I tried the ribs first. They were deep fried. I was surprised. When I hear ribs...I immediately think BBQ sauce. I guess I should have asked. They were not greasy, but there was certainly not a lot of meat on them, and besides salt, no other seasonings. Next I had a mouthful of coleslaw. It was the kind of coleslaw that is sort of cooked. You heat up the oil and vinegar, and pour it on the cabbage. It too, lacked any kind of flavour, except for salt. I also had pictured more of a creamy fresh coleslaw. It was supposed to be crunchy. All of a sudden, the success of this lunch depended on the potatoes. I dug into the little bowl, and scooped up a nice creamy spoonful or two, and was really surprised with the texture. They were silky and soft, and so luxuriously smooth that I let out a little sigh of happiness! They had been mixed with a finely chopped scallion, and had a light sprinkle of breadcrumbs on top, then briefly browned under a broiler. They certainly had the most flavour. Unfortunately, they were sooo smooth and creamy, it was almost like eating air. Going back to the other two items was almost irritating, as I just wanted some flavour...and there was NOTHING. I watched the chef while I ate. He moved quite slowly, even though he seemed to have a lot of pans cooking on his enormous gas stove. I kept watching him bend over and take a variety of items out of many plastic bags and add them to many pots and pans. The weird thing was...I couldn't smell anything. No garlic, or onion...nothing. It was like my lunch. I knew I was eating, but the taste didn't match what it looked like. The bill came to $27.00 without tip, and for the whole rest of the day, my stomach didn't make even one little happy noise. It was like I had NEVER HAD LUNCH!

Damn! I should have gone to Sophie's.

Granville Island

Print Friendly and PDF I don't have a car. The P-Man has a sporty little number. If I need to go to Vancouver, in particular somewhere not on the very convenient Canada Line, I drop the P-Man off at work, and head into the BIG CITY! Yesterday I decided that a trip to Granville Island was long overdue. It is feeling more like Spring, and I am DYING for some fresh new ingredients to cook with. I got there early, around 9 am, and proceeded straight to the market. It has been years since I have been to Granville Island. When I had my store, I used to go into Vancouver all the time, but Granville Island is best to do when you are not in a rush. I spent about 3 hours there yesterday. WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT!! The market was stocked almost exclusively with produce from California, or Mexico...and there was only a handful of items that I would have trouble locating in White Rock. I took my time and really looked at everything. The produce looked fresh, and was merchandised nicely, but I could find the same thing at any supermarket. No local ANYTHING! I bought NOTHING!! Have I been asleep for the last 20 years? How did I not notice our local food producers disappear? We are in BC. We DO grow things here. Where is it?

I had a good wander through the market. I bought some SIEGELS BAGELS, some Winnipeg cream cheese, some smoked meat, and started to feel a bit better. That feeling did not last. I came across a section of the market dedicated to made in BC food products called Edible BC. How sad. A section full of Okanagan preserves, homemade pickles from Abbotsford, some balsamic vinegar, and some chocolate. It looked like any craft fair you have ever been to . Not even a bottle of wine. The government probably wouldn't allow it. They had some literature beside the till, and one of the things they were advertising was MARKET TOURS!! Wow, that would be fun...' and to the left, ladies and gentlemen...our extensive range of California produce!'

I walked some more and came across TERRA BREADS. I love to look at a good bread and pastry display. This one was very nice. I decided to purchase a lemon poppy seed muffin and a cornbread with cheddar cheese and onions. ( see the photo !) I ate the cornbread with my left over Vol Au Vent Halibut in a fennel sauce from Sunday. I ate the muffin this morning. First the cornbread. I warmed it up a bit in the microwave and added some butter, and it still had almost NO FLAVOUR. I detected no cheese or onion...and a couple of times when I was having a tough time swallowing the overly dry cornbread the P-Man asked me if I was CHOKING!!! The muffin was even worse. The top was a bit lemony from a syrup that had been pored over top, but once I ate that, the rest was absolutely tasteless. I actually threw half of it away. There goes 5.50$ I will never get back. These two items were a metaphor for my experience. On the surface, everything looked great...but there was nothing to it. No taste, no life. I am having my bagels and cream cheese and smoked meat for supper tonight. They are my last hope!

After I left Granville Island, I was hungry, and decided to try a restaurant called REFUEL on West 4th Ave for lunch. See the above comments to get the gist of my taste experience. I will write about it next time...after I find myself something GOOD TO EAT. It's sunny today...I may have to head down to the beach.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April or December???

Print Friendly and PDF I just walked up the big hill to get some fresh fruit and vegetables. It is COLD OUTSIDE. A t-shirt, a hoody, a pair of gloves, and a scarf, kind of cold! I took this photo in Hawaii last November...and I am soooo ready for 'fruity drink' season to hit the West Coast of Canada! I have been reading Nigel Slater's ' The Kitchen Diaries '. It is a day by day, month by month account of the food he ate, and the meals he made in a single year. I am finished the first three chapters, January,February, and March. He lives in the UK so the weather is similar to ours. What I find surprising, is the accounts he has of dashing off to the local shop ( Brits seem to speak like that!) to get some fruit and veg, and how he seems to come home with all this lovely fresh produce. He has also been mentioning , how he is going to the local farmers market on the weekend! Now THAT is a big difference from here. Our local farmers market doesn't even start until the end of May, and usually, the selection is pitiful! It is really almost like a craft fair until the middle of June, when the local berries start to appear. I purchased my little bag of fruit and veg from The White Rock Bread Box. It is my produce place of choice. The owner, Mary, is a tad quirky...and today, she was playing a CHER DVD to entertain her customers. There is usually a HUGE lineup, so I like to go on a day when I have time to stand in line. I got a couple of green bananas, a couple of Spartan apples from the Okanagan, a bunch of asparagus, and some flat leaf parsley from Mexico, some green beans from who knows where, and a BC Hothouse tomato that looked good...but probably tastes like sawdust. Maybe there is better selection in Vancouver? I decide to make a pot of soup to warm myself up.

Cathy's Ham and Barley Soup

Boil a ham hock, not smoked, for approx 1 hour. When the meat is falling off the bone, remove from the liquid and throw in some vegetables, chopped as you like. I used carrot, celery, onion, and garlic. I then added about a half cup of pearl barley, some salt, pepper, dried oregano and thyme, and 2 bay leaves. I boiled everything until the barley was tender, and added a cup of frozen green peas, some chopped flat leaf parsley, and the chopped ham that I removed from the boiled bone I turned off the heat, and checked for seasoning. It tastes really good. Nice and brothy,and hammy, and the vegetables are a welcome hint of spring things to come.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sort of... Sloppy Joes

Print Friendly and PDF See how pretty my cannelloni turned out? You would NEVER know those ugly little things could come together to become one big beautiful whole!
I still feel like cooking, so I am. I had a pkg of frozen ground beef, and could not face another plate of spaghetti with meat I dug out an old recipe for Sloppy Joes. As usual, I made quite a few substitutions, so I have put them in brackets. This recipe is from a Canadian cookbook called LOONEYSPOONS...low fat food made fun. by Janet and Greta Podleski. It is one of my favorite kind of cookbooks because it is filled with stories and fun facts. I think the whole premise hits the weight loss nail on the head: Feel free to eat whatever you want, BUT, have you considered that if you eat could have had this instead. For example:

" You would have to oink out on 17 bananas to consume the unbelievable 17 grams of fat found in 1 cup of eggnog. Which would fill you up more? Go for quality and quantity!"

I think information like that makes you think. You ALWAYS have a choice what to eat.

This recipe has a lot of ingredients, and quite a bit of chopping. It is well worth it. It is really nicely flavoured. Really complex...and is versatile. I ditched the doughy buns, and decided to use it as filling for whole wheat tortillas, with some extras tucked in, like low fat sour cream, salsa, homemade guacamole, and some grated mozzarella cheese. They were FANTASTIC!! And I have enough left over for at least one more supper or a couple of lunches!
Thanks Ladies!!

1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken-skinless ( 1 lb lean ground beef )
1 half cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic minced
1 half cup chopped celery ( 2 ribs )
quarter cup grated carrot ( 1 whole carrot )
1 cup cooked Romano or pinto beans, mashed ( 1 19 oz can red kidney beans drained )
1 cup cooked brown or white rice ( brown )
1 cup diced tomato ( 1 whole tomato )
two thirds of a cup of ketchup ( I used some cocktail sauce )
1 half cup green onions ( 1 green onion )
2 jalapeno peppers seeded and minced ( omitted )
2 tbsp white vinegar ( 2 tbsp raspberry vinegar )
1 tbsp each of lite Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar ( I used regular W sauce )
1 and 1 half tsp chili powder
1 teaspoon each ground cumin and prepared mustard ( I used grainy Dijon mustard )
half tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1é4 tsp black pepper ( I just ground some in )
8 hamburger rolls or soft kaisers ( whole wheat tortillas )

Spray a large saucepan with non stick spray ( I used canola oil from a bottle ) Add ground chicken, onions,garlic,celery and carrot. Cook over medium high heat until chicken is browned about 8 minutes. Stir often. Break up any large pieces of chicken with a fork. Drain off any fat.

Stir in remaining ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and summer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spoon chicken mixture over bottom half of hamburger or kaiser bun, cover with top half, and enjoy! Makes 8 tidy joes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni- Part 2

Print Friendly and PDF When last we left the spinach and ricotta cannelloni experiment...this is what I placed in the freezer. I was kind of hoping that my Italian Fairy Godmother was going to come along and wave her magic wand and make these poor sad cannelloni, PRETTY...and ready to attend a BALL! Needless to say, it didn't happen. The P-Man arrived back from his trip, and I thought I would let him taste them. My first step was to whip up a delicious tomato sauce in which to cook them in.
Tasty Tomato Sauce:

olive oil- as much as you like
1 medium onion- chopped quite fine
2 cloves of garlic-minced
1 red pepper-chopped quite fine
1 can of whole Italian plum tomatoes- broken up with a wooden spoon
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
about a cup of flavourful red wine

Olive oil in a saute pan. I consider the olive oil to be another ingredient in the sauce, so use as much or as little as you like. I use enough to cover the bottom of the saute pan. Have the heat around a medium high, and when the oil looks hot, add everything except the tomatoes. Lower the heat to medium low, and sweat the vegetables and herbs until they are 'squishably' soft. Add the wine, and turn up the heat slightly, until you get a little bubbling. Reduce the wine by about half, and then add the tomatoes. Rinse out the tin with warm water, about a 1/4 cup, and add water to the pan. Carefully break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, and continue to simmer with a lid on, for about 1 hour. Turn off heat, and leave covered on the stove for another hour. Taste, and adjust for seasonings.

Once the sauce has cooled, I pre-heated the oven to 350 F and spread a generous layer of tomato sauce onto the bottom of a glass pyrex pan, approx 8 inches by 12 inches. Take the frozen cannelloni and lay them side by side, to fill the pan. Then cover them with more sauce, and grate as much mozzarella cheese as you like, I used about a cup, and sprinkle the cheese over top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes, then uncover the pan and bake for another 20 minutes.

The P-Man pronounced them to be creamy and soft, with a nice spinachy, slightly spicy flavour. The sauce and cheese provided a nice rich base, and was lovely to slurp up with a bit of baguette.
In this case, beauty was definitely, only skin...or 'shell 'deep!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter Sunday!

I love the Internet for certain things. Seasonal jokes are one of them! Please pass the joy along!!
Here is a photo of my banana, blueberry bran muffins. I think they are tasty, so I am passing the recipe on. I made a few substitutions...and put them in brackets.


1 cup sour milk ( buttermilk)
2 tbsp molasses
1 egg
2 tbsp butter
2/3 cup raisins ( omitted )
1/2 cup walnuts ( toasted sesame seeds )
1 1/2 cups bran
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup mashed bananas ( 2 frozen, thawed bananas )

Combine milk, molasses, egg, butter, raisins, walnuts, and bran in a bowl and stir to blend. Sift together dry ingredients and add to moist mixture. Add bananas and stir only enough to moisten. Fill greased muffin tins to 3/4 full and bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.
makes 24 muffins

I used paper muffin cups instead of greasing the tin. I found that the batter only made 18 muffins, and some of those were quite small. I found that 20 minutes baking was enough to cook them through. This cookbook was published in 1983 so perhaps muffin tins have gotten bigger?
I found them not too sweet, and nice with a cup of coffee in the morning, or as an after dinner treat.

Hope the bunny was good to all of you...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy to COOK again!

Print Friendly and PDF These flowers were on the bar at The Mercer Kitchen when the P-Man and I were in NYC. I have been back for nearly 2 weeks now, and have found it really hard to get back into the swing of cooking! Kind of ironic, really. You start a blog about food, and then you don't feel like cooking! HA! Today...something changed, and I started to cook...Hell...I even BAKED!! I woke up and made myself my favorite breakfast. A bowl of Nature's Path organic instant hot oatmeal ( maple nut flavour) with dried mangoes mixed in, with 1% Avalon milk, and cup of Maxwell House instant coffee. YUM! I started making a couple of salads that the P-Man and I could have for supper with some turkey Salisbury steaks from The Turkey House, and a sweet potato mashed with some sour cream and green onions.

First I cut up some fresh green beans and fresh cauliflower, and boiled them for about 4 minutes in salted water. I then made a vinaigrette with olive oil, raspberry vinegar,whole grain mustard, dried tarragon and some salt, pepper, and sugar. After draining and cooling the vegetables, I pour on the vinaigrette, mix it up, then leave it on the counter to marinate.
Next salad consisted of thin slices of fennel and celery, combined with the tender inner celery leaves, and some leaves of Italian parsley. I refrigerated it until the P-Man arrives home from work with a couple of lemons. I will mix up another vinaigrette, consisting of lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper, and toss it together just before we eat, and garnish with thick curls of Parmesan cheese.

For lunch, all I wanted was spaghetti with garlic and olive oil and cheese, with a little black and red pepper mixed in. If I was going to purge my body of yesterday's lunch...three whole raw cloves of garlic would surely do the trick! I boiled some spaghetti with a bit more salt than I would usually use. I roughly chopped 3 cloves of garlic, and a handful of flat leaf Italian parsley, and grated some fresh Parmesan. When the pasta was al dente, I drained it, and left it in the strainer. I put the hot pot back onto the burner, turned to low, and pored in some olive oil, and added the garlic. You don't want to brown the garlic, just cook out the raw taste. Next, turn off the heat, and add some red pepper flakes. Finally, throw the spaghetti back into the pot and toss everything together with the chopped parsley and lots of black pepper. Pour everything onto a plate and cover with grated cheese. EAT WHILE IT'S HOT!!! YUM...I HAVE BEEN HEALED!!!

After lunch I decided to make some banana blueberry bran muffins. I found a recipe in my old Harrowsmith Cook Book, and was of course missing some ingredients, and substituted a few others, but they turned out pretty good. I will let the P-Man be the judge, and if he pronounces them delicious, I will include the recipe in my next posting.

A VERY BAD Food Day!

Print Friendly and PDF This is my cute liltle car. I call her Smoochie! My bad food day, yesterday, all started with her. If you read this blog, you know that I lost fourty pounds a couple of years ago by going to Weight Watchers, and making some big changes in my life. One of these big changes, was taking the insurance off my car, and walking, or taking public transit. I have not missed driving. The P-Man travels quite a bit with his job, so when he is away, I drive his car. It was time to make a decision. I have put Smoochie up for sale! Yesterday morning, I purchased a day's worth of insurance, and headed out to Abbotsford. A friend's dad lives in a house with a very visible driveway, and agreed to let me park her there and will try to sell her for me. The friend's dad then had to drive me back to White Rock, and so I asked if I could buy him lunch. HE WANTED TO GO TO MCDONALDS!!! Yes, THAT MCDONALDS. Now even when I WAS FAT...I NEVER set foot in McDonalds. I have not been to a MCDONALDS since I was 15. At 1 pm yesterday, all that changed, and I walked into the McDonalds on 152nd St in South Surrey, and proceeded to eat: A Crispy chicken, ( HA!) burger thingy on a ciabatta bun ( HA!) with lettuce and tomato ( HA!) and a large french fries and a JUMBO diet coke. I didn't really think I could do it. I didn't think I could eat that food. Somehow, the old programming came back. I opened my hinged container, no longer Styrofoam, now recycled cardboard . I took my fries, and dumped them into the empty part of the container. They have done away with ketchup packages, so I dutifully dunked my fries into the little paper container filled with ketchup that I had pumped out, when I went to look for a napkin. I took a bite of my crispy chicken (HA!) and the taste was so strange. It wasn't crispy, and there was a mayonnaise type sauce on the one side of the bun, and I could SEE the tomato and lettuce...but in my mouth...there was almost no taste. The texture was almost non-existent. So soft it almost melted in your mouth. The only thing that felt different was the warm lettuce. It became sort of stringy, and I had trouble biting through it. The fries were almost as I remembered...but I honestly could not taste potato. They smelled like potato...but all I tasted was ketchup. We sat and talked, and we ate it all. We stayed until we had drank all of our diet Coke...right until we made that little slurping noise with the straw. Then he drove me home, and headed back to Abbotsford.
I had a bit of computer work to do, so I had a glass of water, and worked until I had to walk to Weight Watchers. I only have to attend one meeting a month to be weighed and it was the last day of the month, so I had to go. All afternoon, I had such a strange taste in my mouth. I wasn't hungry at all...but felt kind of out of breath and slightly light headed. I got ready, and started to walk. By the time I had walked 10 steps up the first hill, I was puffing like I was marching up Everest! My legs felt like they weighed a hundred pounds each, and I was walking so slow, I thought I actually might have to stop! I kept going, and stopped at a bakery, to pick up some whole wheat hot dog buns for supper. I had bought some great European turkey weiners at The Turkey Store the day before. I was still feeling so strange, I thought I would get a muffin, and a coffee to have after the WW meeting. I bought a raspberry muffin, and kept going. I got to the meeting, and did my weighing...( up 2.6 lbs for the month! Curse You McDonalds!) sat down and ate my muffin and drank my coffee. As I ate my muffin, I was thinking that I was also starting to go blind. This muffin didn't have any raspberries in it. It was shot through with a strange sort of day-glo pink colored I don't know what. There were no raspberry seeds. Raspberries are not that color. At the very bottom of the muffin was a faint trace of what smelled like raspberry jam. Good grief...I had spent the whole day eating FAUX FOOD!! I decided to use the bathroom before I started walking home, and I could not believe what I saw in the mirror. MY FACE WAS ALMOST PURPLE AND SORT OF BLOTCHY. I mean, I walk almost every day...and I am very rarely winded, or light headed, or red faced and blotchy!! Had I been POISONED?? Is McDonald's AND walking a recipe for disaster? I need to go home and lie down.